Why Lewis Hamilton turned down Ferrari overtures to extend his stay at struggling Mercedes

FORMULA ONE Why Lewis Hamilton turned down Ferrari overtures to extend his stay at struggling Mercedes

Mark Kinyanjui 20:36 - 31.08.2023

The seven-time world champion has rejected overtures from Ferarri by signing a new two-year contract with Mercedes.

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has revealed the reason he has decided to extend his stay with struggling Mercedes.

After months of speculation over his future, which included being linked with a move to Ferrari, the seven-time world champion has committed to a deal that extends his racing relationship with Mercedes.

Hamilton, 38, is currently fourth in the 2023 drivers' standings, 183 points behind runaway championship leader Max Verstappen.

“We have never been hungrier to win,” Hamilton said after signing the new deal. “We have learned from every success but also every setback. We continue to chase our dreams, we continue to fight no matter the challenge and we will win again," he added.

“I’m grateful to the team who have supported me both on and off the track. Our story isn’t finished, we are determined to achieve more together and we won’t stop until we do.”

“I’m really proud of the team, the progress, and the steps we have taken with the car, from feeling like an almost identical car to last year, to making all the changes that we have.”

Hamilton was headed to being the biggest free agent name in F1’s driver market for 2024. But was he ever truly a “free agent?”

It was expected he would put pen to paper on a contract extension with Mercedes, the team with which he has won six of his seven world championships and 82 of his 103 Grand Prix victories. Their partnership has been one of the most successful in F1 history, and there was never any intention from either side to look elsewhere.

Around the Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton dismissed speculation linking with a shock switch to Ferrari and has since maintained it was only the final details of the contract that needed to be concluded. 

Ahead of the summer break, Hamilton said the contract was “very, very close” and that it “continues to be with the lawyers, (going) back and forth on things.”

The news means Mercedes will run an unchanged line-up of Hamilton and young teammate George Russell for a third consecutive season in 2024. It also leaves only four unconfirmed seats — two at AlphaTauri, and one at both Williams and Alfa Romeo — on the F1 grid for next year.

Hamilton claimed his record-equalling seventh world title in 2020 and lost out on the 2021 crown to Max Verstappen on the last lap of the last race in Abu Dhabi in controversial fashion after race director Michael Masi failed to correctly implement the safety car restart rules.

Hamilton has not won a race since the penultimate race of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia. Mercedes fell behind rivals Red Bull and Ferrari under the revised technical regulations for 2022, leaving Hamilton to endure the first winless season of his F1 career.

Amid another dominant year for Verstappen and Red Bull in 2023, Hamilton is fourth in the drivers’ championship with four podium finishes and one pole position to his name, spearheading Mercedes’ bid for second in the constructors’ standings.